Ballots For Highline Public School Levy Hit Mailboxes; Plus, Take Our Poll
Ballots for the Highline Public Schools educational programs levy are landing in local mailboxes this week, with a Feb. 8th deadline.
The only “local” issue on the Feb. 8th Special Election, the levy makes up a quarter of Highline’s operating budget.
The new levy would replace one that expires this year.
Proposition No. 1
Replacement of Expiring Educational Programs and Operation Levy
The Board of Directors of Highline School District No. 401 adopted Resolution No. 2444, concerning a proposition for a replacement levy for education. This proposition would authorize the District to meet the educational needs of students by levying the following excess taxes, in place of an expiring levy, on all taxable property within the District, for support of educational programs and operation expenses, including instruction, safety, materials and facility maintenance and operations:
Collection Year Approximate
Levy Rate/$1,000 Assessed Value
2012 $3.44 $46,000,000 2013 $3.44 $46,000,000 2014 $3.44 $47,000,000 2015 $3.52 $49,000,000
all as provided in Resolution No. 2444. Should this proposition be approved?
The Highline Public School District did not provide an “Explanatory Statement” to the county for the ballot, so we did the next best thing and got a direct statement from them:
“Unless we pass the levy, local funding for schools will end” says Lois Schipper, president of Highline Citizens for Schools. “That would be a devastating blow to our schools and our whole community. Neighborhoods with good schools are safer, and property values stay strong.”
About 80 percent of the levy dollars pay for teachers and other staff positions, according to the school district. The levy funds about 250 staff positions.
“The levy covers basics that the state doesn’t fully fund. In addition to personnel, it funds things like textbooks, bus transportation, and maintaining facilities,” says district spokesperson Catherine Carbone Rogers.
If the levy fails staff lay-offs could not be avoided, says Carbone Rogers. The district would be forced to eliminate courses and consider shortening the school day. Athletic programs and other “extras” would be on the chopping block.
“Levy failure will mean lost jobs, students receiving only the most basic education, larger class sizes, and much more,” says Highline School Board Member Michael Spear. “To ensure the continuing success of our students this Levy is critical.”
State funding reductions have forced Highline to cut $14.5 million from its operating expenses over the past 3 years. The district anticipates additional mid-year cuts of up to $2.1 million this year. State cuts of about $7 million are expected next year.
“Our schools simply can’t sustain cuts of that level without the levy,” says Schipper. “Our children will not get the education they need to compete for jobs.”
While the new levy replaces an expiring tax, there will be a slight increase in the levy amount to help cushion the impact of state cuts. The average Highline homeowner with a home valued at about $300,000 would pay about $14 more per month.
“That’s not a lot to pay for a good education and a healthy community,” says Schipper.
We couldn’t find any “opposition” website to this measure, but there is a Facebook Page for a supporter’s group called “Highline Citizens for Schools” here.
So…how will YOU vote? Please take our Poll below, or leave a Comment…